Developing a Plan for Summer Bible Study

Make a Plan!

The title of this post says it all: We need a plan!

You’d think it would be easier in the long “lazy days” of summer. But those days will slip by if we don’t have some sort of plan for taking in the Word of God.

There’s not one perfect plan. And our lives are all different. As you develop your plan to feed deeply this summer on God’s Word, here are five suggestions to help fill these summer days with spiritual fruit.

1. Study the Bible.

Don’t just read about the Bible; we do enough of that. You’re doing it now!

I think all of us these days are a bit original-source-deprived, what with so many good resources at our disposal. The words God breathed out are living and active, powerful as a piercing sword, sweet as honey straight from the honeycomb.

The words God breathed out are living and active, powerful as a piercing sword, sweet as honey straight from the honeycomb.

Lean in to God’s breathed-out words to you.

2. Do some reading out loud.

The Bible is beautiful read out loud. For centuries, hearing it was one of the main ways people learned it. You notice things when you read God’s Word out loud (you’re also less likely to fall asleep).

Maybe you’ll choose Philippians to study this summer. In one of your first weeks, why not read through that little epistle out loud every day (or every other day)? What a great start that would be to your study of that book. Paul’s words will begin to echo in your mind—and you’ll even be on your way to memorizing some of them.

3. Mark up the passages you’re reading.

Maybe you’ll choose to work in the Psalms. What if you print out a copy of each psalm you study? After you’ve prayed for understanding and read the psalm out loud, a great way to dig in is just to start marking it up!

Spend a few minutes marking everything you notice: circle repeating words; underline phrases that stand out to you; bracket sections that seem to hold together; make squiggles by words you don’t understand; put exclamation marks by surprises; draw pictures by word-pictures; scribble comments in the margin . . . and so forth.

A pen in hand and a print-out with room for writing makes for great observation of a text. If you’re not using a study guide, you can do this by yourself. If you are, you can still incorporate this step profitably into your study.

4. Write down a few comments and prayers that grow out of the text.

If you’re using a study guide, it will probably ask you to do this. If not, you can certainly keep a page of your writing for every day of study. The point is, if you take the time to write down what you’re finding and how you’re responding to it, you will learn and grow much more effectively than if you just sit there and try to think about it.

Try to ask and answer some basic questions about the text. Many people, for example, like the “COMA” method for its simplicity:

  • Context: What can I observe about the circumstances in which this text was written? What can I learn from what comes before and after?
  • Observation: What do I notice in the text? How might I outline or explain the shape of the passage or book?
  • Meaning: What’s the main idea of the text? What does it teach me about God, and about his plan of redemption in Jesus Christ?
  • Application: How might this text lead me to pray? How does it call me to change my thinking and my living?

5. Ask a friend to share your plan.

Ideally, this would be a friend (or group of friends) who will study with you—but it could be simply a friend who will pray for you and check in with you every week or so, to catch up with how you’re doing and what you’re learning. It could be a family member, or perhaps someone at church you’ve been wanting to connect with.

Whether it’s someone new in the faith or older in the faith, you can be sure that such a connection will be encouraging both to you and to her. We’re not meant to do this growth thing alone. We need each other, in the body of Christ, every step of the way.

May we let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly through these summer days (Col. 3:16-17)!

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